BELGIAN BATTLE LOOMS FOR SUPERLEAGUE FORMULA TEAMS AT ZOLDER The former home of the Belgian Grand Prix will play host to a cross-border battle as Nurburgring podium rivals RSC Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven renew their fight in the next round of...
BELGIAN BATTLE LOOMS FOR SUPERLEAGUE FORMULA TEAMS AT ZOLDER
The former home of the Belgian Grand Prix will play host to a cross-border battle as Nurburgring podium rivals RSC Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven renew their fight in the next round of the Superleague Formula championship at Zolder this week.
While PSV Eindhoven's Yelmer Buurman won the second race at the last round in Germany, RSC Anderlecht's Craig Dolby was the star of the day - scoring second place in both races and charging up the "premiership" standings to fourth place.
AC Milan's Robert Doornbos actually made it a Dutch double by winning the opening race - bouncing back from a disastrous opening round at Donington Park. Zolder will be familiar territory for a number of the stars in the new football-themed championship.
The Belgian venue welcomes the Champ Car World Series last year with Nurburgring's Race 1 winner Robert Doornbos (AC Milan), FC Porto's Tristan Gommendy and returning Rangers driver Ryan Dalziel competing at the venue. Doornbos actually scored a front-row starting position in last year's Champ Car event.
But this trio is not the only stars who have significant single seater experience at Zolder. The track has also been the venue for several World Series by Renault (WSR) events. Superleague Formula drivers Enrico Toccacelo (AS Roma) and Andreas Zuber (Al-Ain) each scored a race victory here in 2005 while Borja Garcia (Sevilla FC) scored a pair of podium finishes in 2006.
Other Superleague Formula stars to compete here in that championship include Adrian Valles (Liverpool) and Andy Soucek (Atletico Madrid). Gommendy actually has competed here in both Champ Car and WSR while Superleague Formula development driver and TV commentator Bruce Jouanny also competed here.
After two rounds of the championship, Beijing Guoan's Davide Rigon leads the "premiership" - now enjoying a 24 point gap over PSV Eindhoven after the Chinese club scored a pair of top five finishes at the Nurburgring.Zolder is expected to attract fans from both Belgium and the Netherlands - in fact, the track is actually closer to Eindhoven than RSC Anderlecht's base in Brussels.
However, to secure additional support for Dolby, RSC Anderlecht is actually sending its entire playing square and coach Ariel Jacobs to the track for race day on Sunday. The race day visit returns the favour from Dolby who will be presented to the fans on the pitch a the club's home match on Friday night against Excelsior Mouscron. Buurman will also hit the pitch for PSV Eindhoven on the eve of the two Sunday Superleague Formula events - appearing at the club's game against De Graafschap.
Other on track action will include a pair of world champions on two wheels with Chris Pfeiffer (World Champion in Freestyle Streetbike) joining forces with Narcis Roca for a motorcycle stunt show.
CRAIG DOLBY (RSC ANDERLECHT)
"I'm still in a bit of a state of shock after the weekend - I haven't been able to wipe the smile off my face.
"The result was great for Anderlecht and the perfect preparation for our home race in Zolder. I've raced there in the past and I'm really looking forward to trying the Superleague Formula car there - it should be really impressive over the back part of the course. My confidence is really on a high now and I certainly have my sights set on having another great result next weekend. Having the entire football team at the track will be another huge confidence boost for me - I'm really looking forward to that.
"To finish behind Yelmer and PSV at Nurburgring was great, but next weekend I will be out to reverse that result. There should be a lot of Dutch fans on site as well, but we will be on Belgian soil so I will be out for the win."
YELMER BUURMAN (PSV EINDHOVEN)
"After the win at the Nurburgring, I am really looking forward to Zolder - I have been there a couple of times in the past in Formula Renault and Formula 3 but never something as quick as Superleague Formula.
"The reaction from the fans after the last race has been really positive, lots of emails and congratulations. Everyone was very happy and there seem to be a lot of people interested in the championship.
"I'm up to second now in the championship, but it is way to soon to think about the title. There is still a lot that can happen and you also have to make sure you have plenty of luck.
"Beijing has a handy points gap so far, but one bad weekend could wipe that out, but the same could happen to me. We will just have to wait and see.
"Having two Dutch winners in Nurburgring was fantastic and hopefully we will see a lot of Dutch support for Robert and I at Zolder."
ROBERT DOORNBOS (AC MILAN)
"The Dutch fans follow me everywhere around the world including to the US last year so I think we should see a big contingent of them at Zolder after myself and Yelmer winning at the Nurburgring.
"I was very competitive in Champ Car at Zolder last year and qualified on the front row but we had a problem during a pit stop which spoilt our race so I would love to make amends this year in Superleague Formula.
"I am looking forward to another competitive weekend and I think now the fans are starting to find out how great the car sounds, we should see lots of them from the Netherlands.
"It great for get the win in the Nurburgring after the start we had at Donington. For me, qualifying and race one are very important because you get to show your pace and it is a great motivation for the whole team.
"In the reverse grid race at the ‘Ring it was possible to move forward and I was able to get up to sixth, but as we saw last weekend, it is possible to get all the way up to the podium - just depending on your strategy.
ENRICO TOCCACELO (AS ROMA)
"I don't know exactly what happened, but I was leading the race at the Nurburgring and with three laps to go I shifting back down the gears for the first corner and ended up in neutral.
"I kept trying to select the gear and nothing happened - eventually, I got a gear and I was able to get going again.
"But I had already lost three positions. It also happened after the finish of the race. I had some problems on Saturday morning but it was obviously pretty disappointing to happen so close to the finish while I was leading the race.
"I was sure the win was mine and everything was going well, but now I have to set my sights on Zolder.
"I won at Zolder before in World Series by Renault so I am looking forward to going back. We have to put Nurburgring behind us now and focus on the next round."
RYAN DALZIEL (RANGERS)
"Zolder was certainly one of my favorite races on the Champ Car circuit last year and I am really looking forward to racing again there next week.
"It is a really cool facility and a great venue - it will be great to go back there in the Superleague Formula car for Rangers, particularly at a circuit I have experience at.
"Unfortunately I had to miss the last round because I had an existing commitment in the Grand Am sportscar series in the US.
"I don't find it overly difficult to change between different types of car - you just have to adjust your brain mentally. Last year I had a full Champ Car programme and also did five or six sportscar races as well so I can adapt pretty easily.
"It will be great to now get regular races under my belt every two or three weeks now in Superleague Formula.
"For Rangers I will certainly be out for a good result because last time at Donington we had a crash in the wet and then shortly after myself and marshals were ducking out the way as the Galatasaray car also went off and slammed into my car. I was just trying to tell the marshals we should probably move the car, then we were all running for our lives!"